Basic Andragogical Training for Prison Educators

Project n° 2018-1-RS01-KA204-000433


It is well known that the deprivation of liberty and the harsh conditions in the correctional institutions are neither the only nor a successful way of reducing the crime and conviction. The treatment of convicted persons is a priority segment in the execution of criminal sanctions. A serious problem in the organization of prison treatment is the heterogeneity of prisons population, the variety of prisons, financial and spatial conditions, but also the inadequacy of staff qualifications. The education and expertise of staff in the prisons are key elements that reflect the impact of penalty policy (the pronouncement and the service of sentence). The question is whether the staff in prisons has met the challenges of contemporary penalty treatment. And whether they possess (penological, andragogical, psychological, criminological…) knowledge and skills to meet the standards of the modern world in which the fundamental rights of the prisoners are respected.

Investing in education in one society and even in prison (in programs, staff and resources) depends on how education is valued in society and is recognized as one of the key factors affecting the quality of life of a member of society. The prison population has a pre-history of lower levels of education and poor experience with education. Having that in mind, the important issue refers to the possibilities for prisoners’ education and how to motivate them to educate. The precondition for this is to recognize and believe in the power of education, both by prisoners themselves and by prison staff. The richness of methods and approaches would contribute to the realization of education of the prisoners and would enable the recognition of education as a factor that contributes to re-socialization and correction of attitudes towards socially inadequate behavior.

Only those persons who have acquired andragogical, psychological and penological competencies to plan, realize, motivate, direct educational activities and evaluate the educational outcomes in prisons can carry out this responsible function. Beside the problem of the variety of inadequate professional qualifications of educators, there is also the problem of inappropriate training after formal education. Taking into account that significant number of employees in prisons are not professionally competent to work with the deprived population (they did not acquire adequate competencies through formal education), additional education should become compulsory, regardless of the long-standing experience these employees have. It is important to provide the educators with the opportunity to continue their education and training so they can try to change the rigid attitudes of other members of prison staff towards the humanization of the conditions in the penitentiary institutions. Only a well-trained staff, through lifelong non-formal and informal learning, could be useful for organizing and working on the re-socialization of prisoners, their training, and reintegration. Without education, the development of professional competences, the opportunities for continuous improvement and the motivation of staff, it is difficult to achieve better results in the treatment of prisoners.

When reflecting on the issue of prison educators training at least two large groups of andragogical competencies come to front. One group refers to general or basic andragogical competencies of prison educators needed for successful work with adults in general and these should be delivered from the specifics of the adult learner. The other group refers to specific andragogical competencies of prison educators needed for successful work with adults in specified conditions of prison environment determined mostly by the specifics of the adult prisoners and characteristics of prison (learning) environment. Since both groups include rich variety of complex knowledge and skills it would be too pretentious to encompass them all at the same time. So, within this project we will be focused exclusively on the basic andragogical competencies of prison educators. To be more specific, the main objective of the project refers to development of the framework of basic andragogical training program for prison educators. It is important to carry out this project in international cooperation because of the differences in approaches to prison education in different European countries, variability of educational structures of prison educators and prisoners, different problems and ways of solutions prison education is facing across Europe, different ways in which the lifelong education is perceived and recognized as a factor of improvement of educational staff in prisons and prisoners re-socialization and rehabilitation. All this differences (conceptual or practical) contribute to the holistic understanding of the prison education issues and support the process of delivering universal program framework of basic andragogical training for prison educators.

Coordinator of the project Basic Andragogical Training for Prison Educators (BATPE) is Serbian Association of Andragogists (SAA) from Belgrade (Serbia). The partners on the project are institutions that expressed intensive passion, motivation, readiness, willingness, availability, great recognition of prison education issues and the space for their improvement by participating in this project. The exceptional values they bring to the project refer to their experience in the field of adult education that takes place within correctional institutions. The partners on the project are Koinè, the voluntary organization from San Felice a Cancello (Italy) and Gebze Public Education Center (GPEC) from Gebze (Turkey).

The project will be realized through several phases in period from the 1st of November 2018 to the 31st of October 2019: initial introduction of partners, preparation, Basic Andragogical Training for Prison Educators (BATPE) program/curriculum development and handbook/manual design, evaluation and dissemination. Related mixed joint and independent activities of all partners formally involved in the project, as well as associated partners not formally involved in the project should contribute to the most significant outputs of the project: Program for Basic Andragogical Training for Prison Educators (BATPE) and Handbook of Basic Andragogical Training for Prison Educators (BATPE).

Since the focus is not on program application but exclusively on its development, the program impact refers to the raise of awareness and interests of local, national and international bodies devoted to the issues of prison education about the importance, possibilities and opportunities of permanent education of prison educators in holistic and universal manner as a means of improvement of working and living quality of prison staff and prisoners, development of prisoners competencies needed for their social reintegration and reduction of recidivism rate among ex-prisoners. This impact should be made primary through dissemination activities with a special tendency to involve governmental representatives in the process of incorporation BATPE program into the systems of formal education which will ensure systematic permanent and continuous education of prison educators. We recognize the success in this tendency as the definite assurance of the sustainability of the project outputs.

If we take into account the application of the BATPE program in the future its impacts could refer to:

– development of prison educators competencies needed for successful work with imprisoned adults (andragogical competencies comes to the first place) – at the national level of countries within this partnership, but also at the international and regional level;

– improvement of the working and living quality of both, the prisoners and prison staff at the national level of countries within this partnership, but also at the international and regional level;

– development of prisoners literacy, social and working skills needed for their successful reintegration in society, at the national, but also at the regional and international level;

– decrease of recidivism rate among ex-prisoners in national and international context.